Monday, October 10, 2011

Blues start slow, finish strong in 5-2 win over Flames

Five different goal-scorers lead charge in first victory of season

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues had their issues getting the blades going early Monday against the Calgary Flames. But once they found their skating legs, the hill began to tilt downward.

The Blues saw five different players score goals, and for the second straight game, they outshot their opponent by a 2-1 margin in a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday afternoon at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (1-1) got goals from Alex Steen, Jason Arnott, Chris Stewart and defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo. Jaroslav Halak stopped 15 shots, Arnott and Pietrangelo each collected assists and Andy McDonald assisted on two goals.
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Roman Polak (right moves the puck past Calgary's Matt Stajan
during Monday's 5-2 win over the Flames.

"Maybe the first 10, we really didn't have our game,"McDonald said. "We got it turned around and there were a lot of good things tonight. We had four lines rolling and we seemed to get some momentum in the offensive zone and keep up with the changes."

The Blues, who outshot Nashville 33-16 despite falling 4-2 in the opener Saturday, outshot the Flames (0-2-0) by a 35-17 margin, including 10-2 in the third period when the game was still in the balance.

"We wanted to go into that third period as if it were a tied hockey game," said Stewart, whose backhand goal gave the Blues a 4-2 lead. "We didn't sit back on our heels. We wanted to get that insurance marker. We dictated the whole momentum in that third period."

The Blues are getting good returns from all four lines and their defensemen are getting into shot lanes. It's kept Halak's workload light through two games.

"It really starts with our return," said Shattenkirk, whose goal early in the second period broke a 1-1 tie and put the Blues ahead for good. "Our backcheck's been great. That really doesn't even allow teams to set up in our zone. ... We've just been doing a good job of blocking shots and getting pucks out as quickly as possible."

Added Pietrangelo, who set up Stewart with his goal off a poke-check, "We've got our forwards working their tails off coming back into their own end. We're trying to block as many shots as possible from the (defensemen) and the forwards. We've got a lot of guys bearing down here and sacrificing. Top to bottom, that's what we need here."

Blues coach Davis Payne said the Flames were coming hard in the first period and changes were necessary.

"We really had to make some adjustments as far as the type of spots we were in on the ice," Payne said. "Otherwise, it would have been a long night facing the kind of pressure they were giving.

"I liked where our game got about three or four minutes into the second period. It was a lot of support issues early on. I thought Calgary had good jump, good intent and they were coming at us pretty good."

Curtis Glencross gave Calgary an early 1-0 lead, but the Blues found something with their line of Steen, Arnott and Matt D'Agostini. The trio accounted for the tying goal when D'Agostini gained entry into the Flames' zone and dropped off a pass to Arnott. Arnott's one-timer was stopped by Henrik Karlsson, but Steen was on the doorstep and knocked in the rebound with 1:09 to play in the opening period.

Karlsson made the surprise start against the Blues, in favor of Miikka Kiprusoff. It's surprising since Kiprusoff has been a Blues killer -- along with Jarome Iginla -- during their careers.

Kiprusoff's career numbers against the Blues (19-5-2, 1.94 goals-against average and .926 save percentage) were only topped by his numbers against them last season (4-0-0 with a 0.75 GAA and .975 save percentage).

"He's not going to play 75 games this year because that's what you guys expect from him," Sutter said of his starting netminder. "He's not going to play that much this year and we want to get Karl going right off the bat here.

"Our goal going into this was Kipper was going to play the first game and Karl was going to play the second game and that's what we did."

Shattenkirk gave the Blues the lead for good when he converted Jamie Langenbrunner's blind backhand pass. Shattenkirk's snapper into the far side from the right circle came 3:39 into the second period.

"I think we were getting sustained pressure in the zone early on," Shattenkirk said. "Langs made a great pass there, completely looking the other way.

"I gave him a shout-out. It's obviously a high-risk pass, so you don't know if it's coming or not. ... Luckily I was fortunate to find the back of the net."

Pietrangelo's one-timer from the blue line -- essentially skating backwards -- with 4:30 left in the second made it 3-1, but Iginla scored his first of the season and 27th in 57 career games against the Blues (to go with 41 assists) late in the period to make it 3-2.

That's when Stewart came into play, getting Pietrangelo's poke-checked puck and racing three-quarters length of the ice and lifting a backhand perfectly into the far corner past Karlsson 3:44 into the final period.
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Chris Stewart (25) had a step on Calgary's Chris Butler and
scores in the third period of the Blues' 5-2 win over the Flames Monday.

"Originally I was thinking make that power cut, but kudos to that defenseman (St. Louis native Chris Butler)," Stewart said. "He was there the whole way. It's just a lucky shot on the backend.

"(Pietrangelo's) a smart player and made a good play there. I went down and just got a shot off on the backhand and it went in ... lucky bounce."

McDonald added another assist when his aggressive forecheck forced a turnover and ensuing feed to am on-coming Arnott, who made no mistake in beating Karlsson with 5:38 to play.

The Blues netted more goals Monday than they did all season against the Flames, who outscored the Blues 14-3 in four games.

"Thanks for reminding that from last year," McDonald joked. "Last year we played them back-to-back and got shut out. Probably the turning point in our season.

"We've got enough offense in this room. I think we finished 10th last year in goals scored. The big thing for us is playing solid defensively. We're going to score goals. We've got more depth up front this year. Big thing for us is keeping them out of our net."

* NOTES -- The Blues were without RW David Perron (post-concussion symptoms), RW B.J. Crombeen (shoulder) and D Carlo Colaiacovo (upper-body), who was injured Saturday against Nashville. Kent Huskins made his Blues debut and played well. He was a plus-3 in 18:48 time on ice. ... Pietrangelo led the Blues in TOI again at 23:09 after leading them with 26:22 Saturday. He and Huskins led the team with plus-3. ... The Blues had five players at plus-2: Barret Jackman, McDonald, Shattenkirk, Stewart, D'Agostini and Arnott. ... The Blues blocked more shots (18) than the Flames actually had on goal (17). ... Arnott has three points in two games after 1-1 today. He also was tied (with four others) for the team lead in shots on goal (4) and was 10-for-13 in the face-off circle.

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